BEIRUT – French President Emmanuel Macron called Lebanon’s president on Friday to discuss the need to press on with efforts to form a new government, seeking to give new momentum to an initiative by Paris that aims to pull the Middle East nation out of crisis.
France has been leaning on Lebanon’s sectarian politicians to name a cabinet swiftly and embark on reforms to get the country out of the worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
But the process has been bogged down by a dispute over the allocation of ministries in the new cabinet.
Lebanon’s main Shi’ite Muslim factions, Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, have demanded that they name Shi’ite ministers, including the finance minister.
President Michel Aoun, a Christian under Lebanon’s sectarian system of power sharing, received a phone call from Macron “dealing with the government situation and the necessity to continue efforts to secure the creation of the government as soon as possible,” the Lebanese presidency said.
Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim, said on Thursday he would give more time for talks on forming the cabinet. He had proposed switching control of ministries, some of which have been held by the same factions for years.
A Sept. 15 deadline agreed between Lebanese politicians and Paris for forming the new government has already been missed.
Lebanese Christian opposition politician Samir Geagea said on Friday that demands by the Shi’ite groups to name the finance minister in a new government had struck at the core of a French initiative.